Letters to
the editor

A road through Country

Following Lidia Thorpe’s piece (“Destroying sacred trees contradicts treaty hopes”, August 17-23), VicRoads has started evicting the embassy. The machines are humming in the background, waiting for people to fade away from camp. This cannot happen. To quote Djab Wurrung Aunty Sandra Onus, “Those trees will not be disturbed.” If you are able to make it, please spend time on Country. If you can’t, please know you can have a major impact, too. Contact any of those listed below. If you’re not sure what to say, try something like this: “I am contacting you to register my protest of the Labor Party’s Western Highway extension and its implications for sacred Djab Wurrung sites. I object to the government’s plan and will continue to register my objection until the traditional custodians’ wishes are truly heard.”

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews: [email protected]; (03) 9651 5000

Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne: [email protected]; (03) 8683 0964

Victorian Transport Minister Jacinta Allan: [email protected]; (03) 8392 6100

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack: [email protected]; (02) 6921 4600

Project direct line: [email protected]; 1300 779 642

– Indiah Money, Carlton, Vic

Learn and forgive

The Australian Dream. As Gilbert McAdam says, “What would they know… what would they bloody know?” That’s our shame. What do we know? It’s time we were taught (Stan Grant, “Dream of consciousness”, August 17-23). In the 1940s growing up in New Zealand, we were told by anthropological students at the Otago Museum, year after year, that the Australian Aborigines were an ignorant, backward race. Upon moving to Australia in 1970, I met and worked with a young Aboriginal girl and we became friends. My real education began. Every Indigenous person I meet strengthens my respect and admiration for their knowing of their histories, their culture, their endurance and their dignity. It is a black mark against white Australia for our treatment of them, their laws and their customs. Let’s discuss Australia Day. Australia Day means a lot to me as 40 years ago my daughter was born on that day. However, let us honour the First Peoples of Australia with their own day and anthem. The song I have in mind is the beautiful “We are one, but we are many / And from all the lands on earth we come ...” Let us learn and be forgiven.

– Patricia Bellamy, Bangholme, Vic

Staying civil

Dr David Brophy’s warning that the debate about China risks sliding into racism (Mike Seccombe, “How the China question split Australian politics”, August 17-23) is a valuable contribution. It seems as though what’s at stake in Australia’s struggle with China is not simply the survival of our democracy, but the strength and integrity of our civil society. The alarm at the Chinese state’s mobilisation of nationalist sentiment through media channels belies our own daily media frenzy on the issue, and the increasing vilification of the Chinese community in Australia. We should be vigilant about our national security, but the test will be whether we can do so without mobilising unwarranted suspicion and hate.

– Kirk Weeden, Frankston, Vic

Violent consequences

Rick Morton’s “Murdoch media fuels far-right recruitment” (August 10-16) is a timely reminder of the power of inflammatory media reports to facilitate environments in which hate and prejudice are legitimised and become mainstream, laying the groundwork for discrimination and violence. In 2017 Brazilian Dandara dos Santos was brutally beaten and shot for being a transgender woman. Maria da Silva, lawyer and activist, reflecting on how Brazilian society marginalised transgender people, said: “When you don’t have respect for a segment of population, that ends up in violence.” Australia is in desperate need of leadership that promotes respect for all people – and an end to the characterisation of some among us as “illegals”, “queue-jumpers”, “African gangs” or “dole-bludgers” – if we are to avoid the drift towards disrespect, divisiveness and ultimately violence. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but it is words that too often create the excuse for the beating.

– David Fox, Belgrave, Vic

Education fail

The anonymously published article “Academic casualties” (July 27-August 2) informed us of the cost-cutting measures at our universities that no doubt lead to a lowering in standards. In “Course correction” by Paddy Manning (August 17-23) we learn about the lowering in the standard of vocational training caused by privatisation. This chronic failure of successive governments to facilitate good-quality tertiary education goes on while our unemployment rate is 5.2 per cent and our youth unemployment rate is 11.9 per cent. Meanwhile, employers continue to complain about widespread skills shortages.

– Douglas Richards, Rosanna, Vic

The parents’ choice

If my wife becomes pregnant, that is not an event on which society needs to have a view. If the pregnancy is unplanned and unwanted, my wife and I will have a view. Every child born into this world should be wanted and loved, but accidental pregnancy, which occurs frequently, may not have this outcome. It is for the potential parents to make the hard decision to continue or abort; it is not an issue for society to determine. For Pam Connor’s information (“Every life has value”, August 17-23), deaths from illegal abortions are a thing of the past in states with civilised legislation.

– Rodney Syme, Yandoit Hills, Vic

Hooray for hoodoo

I’m glad New Zealand thrashed Australia in Bledisloe II. You can bet everyone between Norfolk Island and Easter Island was barracking for the All Blacks, and with good reason, considering this country’s appalling behaviour at the Pacific Islands Forum (Jonathan Pearlman, World, August 17-23). The rugby union victory was a classic example of a bully put in their place.

– Mike Puleston, Brunswick, Vic

Letters are welcome: [email protected]
Please include your full name and address and a daytime telephone number. Letters may be edited for length and content, and may be published in print and online. Letters should not exceed 150 words.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Aug 24, 2019.

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